Today San Francisco-based Sharethrough, a native video advertising company, announced it has raised $5 million in a Series B round from its previous investors North Bridge Venture Partners and Floodgate. Since launching in 2008, the company now distributes native video ads for 50 percent of the top 100 brands with 85 percent of top U.S. media agencies as clients, and is projecting $40 million in revenue from native video ads this year.
Over the past year the company reported 87 percent growth in revenue and will look to use the funding to grow its user base for its Sharethrough Sponsored Video platform for publishers that lets them integrate video ads into their content, and currently has the likes of Forbes and millions of independent WordPress publishers on board.
“The company has its roots in directly working with advertisers on their content-driven campaigns rather than more traditional methods of taking television commercials online or other standard forms of advertising,” Sharethrough VP of Communications Chris Schreiber said in an interview. “It’s squarely about distribution so we don’t make videos, and it’s always been a tradition of how do we help advertisers get their videos seen and shared. That means working with lots of different publishers to integrate the videos onto their sites and tracking all the data behind how they’re performing.”
Native online advertising essentially means breaking away from traditional models of advertising that in the past revolved around banner ads, pre-roll, pop-ups, and videos that would essentially interrupt the person browsing a website. Instead, popular social networks started introducing their own forms of native advertising, like Facebook Sponsored Stories, or Twitter’s promoted tweets. Through these native ads the person browsing the site views the advertising as part of the design and experience of the website built into the content, rather than an interruption or something to skip, forward, or eventually cancel.
The company serves both agencies that work with brands to produce and create videos, and publishers who are looking for new ways to grow their ad revenues without annoying their readers. Last month the company launched its Sharethrough Sponsored Video platform last month, the new platform enables publishers to feature native video ads and find a new stream of revenue.
“You started seeing more and more of these ad products that are native to the site, they’re all products that are built into the fabric of the site, and really give advertisers a way to inject themselves into the main experience, rather than sitting on the sideline,” Schreiber added. “So, what we’re looking to do is continue to work with advertisers to help them get their videos shared, but also work with publishers to build their own native ad products around video.”
The company has also created a curated database for brand videos called Sharethrough.tv on its website which shows examples of content put out by some of the agencies it works with. Schreiber also notes publishers including USA Today redesigned parts of their sites around native ads, while others like The Atlantic have decided to go mobile-first with the launch of their new business application, Quartz, hinting at a design revolution around how content is distributed and monetized.
Another player in the game of finding new ways to monetize content by driving pages views and traffic is OutBrain, a company which works with publishers and media agencies to push recommended content and drive page views with a focus on native ads as articles rather than videos. However, Sharethrough appears to have a strong position when it comes to video thanks in part to its distribution network and agency partners, making it a go-to platform for what it believes is the future of marketing. The trend towards brands and agencies creating more engaging content and publishers finding ways to integrate it less obtrusively into their sites appear to be a huge plus for consumers, who would much rather be entertained than interrupted at the end of the day.